Home » What works? Who decides?: Scientific evidence, local governance, and the politics of knowledge in social and educational reform. by Jennifer D Sandler
What works? Who decides?: Scientific evidence, local governance, and the politics of knowledge in social and educational reform. Jennifer D Sandler

What works? Who decides?: Scientific evidence, local governance, and the politics of knowledge in social and educational reform.

Jennifer D Sandler

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ISBN : 9780549799627
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338 pages
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This dissertation elaborates a theory of knowledge movements, which are reform movements that are based on---and that advance---epistemic convictions. Through multi-sited ethnographic research, this project examines two such movements: a localMoreThis dissertation elaborates a theory of knowledge movements, which are reform movements that are based on---and that advance---epistemic convictions. Through multi-sited ethnographic research, this project examines two such movements: a local knowledge movement and the federal evidence-based practices/policy movement. The local knowledge movement is an institutionalized effort systematically to influence and govern social policy and practice based on the experiences and knowledge of individuals who directly experience the problems that social policies aim to address. The local knowledge movement privileges and produces grassroots knowledge through community organizing in high-poverty neighborhoods and schools, and brings this knowledge directly to bear on policy and practice. The evidence-based movement is an effort that spans multiple public, private, and educational institutions to influence policy and practice at the federal level using rigorous scientific evidence produced chiefly through randomized controlled trials. The evidence-based movement privileges a narrow, experimentalist version of scientific knowledge, advocating for its production, management, and dissemination in diverse policy fields. Based on extensive participant observation, document analysis, and interviews with a variety of elite and professional activists throughout each of these distinct movements, this project uses a comparative analysis to advance an initial outline of a theory of knowledge movements.-This comparison focuses on the activists, allies, and potential allies of each movement- on these two knowledge movements distinct strategies for gaining adherents and mitigating ideological and political divides- and on key conflicts internal to each knowledge movement. By engaging with two of the most interesting and ascendant contemporary social reform movements in the United States from the perspective of how each advances its epistemic convictions in policy and practice, this dissertation develops the groundwork for a theory and method that is capable of analyzing the complicated roles of ideology, interest groups, reform activists, and institutions in social and educational change.